We were ready in less time than Steve and met him in the armoury. He'd arranged a small tack team to escort us for back up. Remembering last time I slotted two hand guns into the holster on my hip and thigh wondering how much I'd have to use them. Wanda was sat with her eyes closed on a far bench her fingers twitched restlessly, I went over to her and crouched down.
"We'll find him, he'll be OK" I said to both her and myself "You'd know if he was dead" She opened her eyes
"How can you be so sure?" I felt our places reverse, this was usually Wanda's job, looking after me, reassuring me everything was going to be alright.
"Because he's a survivor, like his sister." she gave me a weak smile and stood up as Steve entered the room.
"Let's move." he said and we followed him into the jet and strapped in. I felt nauseous enough without the half an hour ride in the plane. I fidgeted in my seat pulling my gloves on and off again. The team around me were silent, a few were eyeing Wanda with nervous glances. Unlike the rest of us her and Steve were fully fledged members of the Avengers, to people who didn't know her she was like a celebrity. I knew she hated the attention, unlike Pietro. I couldn't believe how calm I was. Knowing what we were probably walking into, thinking how they could be treating me friends right now. But my head was clear and I could think straight for the first time in days.
"How long til we touch down?" I asked Steve who was flying the jet.
"Another few minutes so get ready." I was as ready as I would ever be. We loaded out of the jet onto a nearby field and waited for orders.
He pointed to a building a few streets over which had once been a luxurious hotel but now with its faded paint and broken windows looked more like a ruin. "That's the building the coms stopped transmitting from, we picked up heat signatures on the first floor so they're in there. Blake, Wanda. You go round back and look for a way in. We'll go in the front and try to extract the team. And Wanda, don't be afraid to play some mind games." she nodded
We snuck off behind the buildings keeping away from the view of the windows. Round back there was a rusted iron door. I pushed on it as hard as I could and even with Wanda's help couldn't budge it. "Stand back" she said and her eyes glowed red. I jumped out of the way and she blasted the door off its hinges.
"Let's go find my brother." she said striding forward. In that moment I felt sorry for anyone standing in the way of the Maximoff twins.
The building was dark inside, a few rotten mattresses and stale clothing lay on the floor, it had clearly been used by squatters at some point. I checked the rooms leading off the hall my gun held out before me, they were empty. I nodded my head up the stairs. Since Steve said there were only people on the first floor I didn't expect to see anyone down here. Wanda headed up the stairs and I kept close to her heel.
Halfway down the next hall we began to hear muffled voices. I looked over at her, silently hoping she knew to keep quiet. A door stood ajar a few feet away, weak light spilling from the crack. Pocking my head round the door I saw Emily tied to a broken chair silent tears slipping down her face.
"You think you can walk away from us without consequences?" we heard a man say in a gruff voice "You don't abandon Hydra, we set you lose or cut you free, there is no in between." It wasn't a voice I recognised but Wanda did, her eyes narrowed. "Answer me, boy" he said sharply and there was a grunt of pain but no response. I gritted my teeth, I couldn't see anything but I knew someone had just struck Pietro. Wanda made forward but I held her back.
"Wait." I whispered. She knew I was right but didn't seem happy about it. I wasn't either I knew how she felt, if anything happened to Pietro no one would be able to hold me back from doing what had to be done. I slid a finger into the crack in the door and pushed very slightly. It moved a few inches but made no sound. From where we stood I could see Emily, Pietro and Evans. Emily was bound to the chair but Evans stood free in the corner of the room next to a body. I shivered. I couldn't see who it was but they weren't moving.
Half a dozen Hydra agents were dotted around the room , their leader it seemed, was interrogating Pietro. There were two guards on him, each restraining one of his arms. I wondered how the hell they got him in the first place until I saw the electric rods in their hands and the burn marks on Pietro's neck. Pure fury rose inside me. When I got in there not one of those Hydra agents was leaving that room.
"I said answer me! Two prized experiments don't just disappear, where is your sister?" He didn't say a word, he just glared back at his questioner, hate burning in his eyes. The man struck him again with the rod and Pietro's body jolted.
"Leave him alone!" Emily shouted straining at her ropes, the guard next to her hit her with the butt of his gun and she went quiet. I gripped Wanda's hand and she took my meaning clear as day. She held out her fingers and red energy began to seep into the room. It curled around the guards nearest the door and a glazed look came into their eyes. No one else seemed to have noticed.
"Your friend tells me there are more of you with the Avengers." he said gesturing to the unbound Evans.
"We're not friends" spat Evans "His bitch sister got my parents killed." Pietro strained against his guards trying to get at Evans. "Yeah not so tough now are you Maximoff." The guards were finding it hard to keep Pietro down, he struggled and kicked out at one making them fall to the ground. He wrenched his hand out of the others grip and in the next second had Evans pinned against the wall by his neck.
"You were saying?" he said as Evans tried to splutter out words "No really, go on. I can't wait to hear way comes next" A guard tried to hit Pietro in the face and missed, he hit Evans in the jaw as Pietro darted to the other side of the room to stand in front of Emily but the agent nearest him elbowed him in the face and he stumbled backwards.
"Now Pietro you know how this goes, you tell me where your sister is and I won't kill this girl." he said pointing to the unconscious Emily. "I know she survived Sokovia. We need you both as allies, you once fought by our side do so again as a free man."
"That was our mistake" he said spitting out blood "I'm not telling you anything"
"Noble, and foolish. Shield will never be your home, you're and outcast and you always will be."
There came the sounds of gun shots from downstairs and Steve's voice rose over the com "Do you have eyes on the team?"
I hoped no one in the room had heard that and tried to answer as quietly as possible "Yes but they're guarded."
"What was that?" said the man inside the room and I cursed internally "Go! Find out who it is." I looked at Wanda in alarm but she already had her hands out making complex patterns in the air. Three of the six guards exited the room walking straight into Wanda's path.
"Sweet dreams fellas." I said as she threw her magic at them. They all collapsed, twitching on the floor.
"Now!" shouted Steve's voice in my ear "We've got incoming, get them out"
I kicked the door in and ran into the room. It all happened so fast I could barely keep track. Wanda blasted one man into the air and he smashed into the wall, I grabbed another and twisted his arm behind his back away from his gun, I heard a crack and the man screamed.
"Sorry" I said slamming his head into the floor. I pulled out my gun and spun to face the last guard but he was already down. I looked at Wanda impressed and advanced on the leader. He held out his rod attempting to shock me before I got too close but I shot him in the leg without blinking and pressed my foot against his throat.
"Move, and she'll make you wish I'd shot you in the head." I said in a cold voice turning and gesturing to Wanda. She had her arms around her brother. A lump caught in my throat as I saw him. He looked up as he spotted me.
"Blake?" He didn't sound angry at all which was what I might have expected, he sounded scared. I heard an ominous click and followed his gaze. Evans was pointing a gun directly at my face.
"Don't even breath Deveraux. Lift your foot and drop your gun." he said in a demanding tone. Pietro started to move forward and Evans yelled "One move Maximoff and your girlfriend bites it."
Pietro stopped and looked over at me. I tried to say everything in that look It's ok, everything's going to be alright but it did nothing to ease his panic. I was scared as well, I had a gun pointing at me and no way to defend myself.
"Mikale, just calm down" said Wanda in a soothing voice
"You don't talk to me, it's your fault my parents died." Wanda looked taken aback
"They were in Sokovia, trying to clean up the mess you made!" He shouted pointing the gun at Pietro and Wanda in turn "I know what you did, you helped create Ultron, you killed hundreds of people. "
"They didn't know" I said and his gun snapped back to me "You can't blame them." He looked ready to crack
"Blame them! It's not just them, every enhanced leaves a trail of blood behind them and the longer it gets the stronger they become. It has to stop. This one" he said pointing to the body on the ground "Didn't even put up a fight."
I gasped like the wind had been knocked out of me "You killed them?" I said looking horrified at the body at his feet
"Well somebody had to" he said "I proved myself to Hydra."
"By killing an innocent child!" I was shouting now "You're insane!"
"Blake, don't make him angry he won't think twice about shooting you" said Pietro shifting his body as if to make himself more of a target to Evans instead of me. Mikale laughed and the sound was like ice running down my spine.
"He's right, but this is rich. You realise your all hypocrites. You-" he said pointing at Wanda "Are so grounded and moral yet you get into people heads and mess with their brains, forcing your will on them, acting like a god."
Pietro stepped in front of Wanda and growled "Back off."
"I wouldn't" said Evans a mad look in his eyes "We're not so different. Both lost parents to the Avengers, both trying to redeem ourselves with useless acts of bravery."
"Don't flatter yourself" I shouted "You're nothing like him!"
"I thought you would understand, Deveraux. You know them better than anyone. You gotta see they're playing you." he said pointing his gun at them and tightening his finger on the trigger
That broke it "You're right." I said stepping forward and Pietro turned his head to look at me "I know them enough to see they protect their own, that care about the people around them. I know they would never do anything like this! I know that if you threaten my family one more time I will take that gun and ram it down your throat!"
"You little bitch!" He screamed and turned to me eyes blazing. I didn't have time to throw myself out of the before he pulled the trigger. But he should have known better. All this time he should have known. He was outmatched in a room full of enhanced humans, one of whom could catch bullets in mid air.
Pietro's fingers stopped inches from my lips holding the bullet and I let out a shaky laugh watching my breath fog up the metal.
"Thanks" I said looking up into his face.
"Anytime." I saw something move behind his shoulder and pushed Pietro behind me. Evans still had his gun out but was quickly recovering from the shock of missing his target, he raised it again towards Wanda and I ran forward pulling the second gun from my belt.
"What did I just say?" I said sticking the barrel of my gun into his mouth before he could make another move. He immediately dropped his own and held up his hands. I watched as he let out a whimper of panic "You should really listen next time." I said and hit him over the head with the end of the gun. He passed out on the floor next to the body of the child he had murdered.
I stumbled back into Pietro, trembling with adrenaline.
"I got you." he whispered in my ear pulling me to my feet. He moved his hand to my face and I leaned into it. Keeping his voice low so Wanda couldn't hear he said "You're nearly as wreck less as I'am. You scared the hell out of me."
"Guess that makes us even now huh?"
"Only if you stay around and find out."
"I'm not going anywhere." I said truthfully
"I thought that before" he said looking at me warily. I didn't know what to say to convince him. I heard Wanda moving around across the room talking into her com and leant up to rest my head on Pietro's shoulder.
"I was so worried about you guys."
"You have that little faith me?" he asked as I pulled away to look at him
"No it's because...Pietro whether you believe me or not, I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you." I said
When he didn't respond I reached up and met his lips with my own. They parted as he smiled and he lifted me up so my toes no longer reached the floor. He set me back down after a moment grinning all over his face.
"What a coincidence." he said and I heard Wanda clear her throat
"We have to go." she said laughing. Steve arrived at the door with his shield out.
"C'mon, we have to-" he stopped assessing the situation. I broke away from Pietro feeling nervous. He paused then said "Finally Deveraux"
I raised my eyebrows and felt like laughing until I looked around the room again.
"We have to get them back to Shield." I said pointing to the remaining living bodies.
"What happened?" asked Steve entering the room "What about the enhanced?"
"They didn't make it." said Wanda in a sad voice turning to the body. She covered it with a dust sheet and then looked at Evans, pity and loathing crossed her face.
"It was him, Cap." I said " I'll explain on the way. We should get these Hydra agents back to base to question."
"Good call." said Steve looking away from the covered body and nodding.
We all piled into the jet and Wanda made room next to Pietro for me to sit, she whispered something in his ear that made his eyes dart to me.
"What was that?" I asked leaning against his arm as Wanda left to stand next to Steve
"She said too look at your back" he said looking completely confused. I caught on and lifted my body armour off. He helped me pull up my top enough so he could see my lower back. A warm hand slid across the surface of my skin and I turned my head to look at him.
"The bruises, they've gone." he realised and I closed my eyes enjoying the feel of his hand on my skin.
"It's a long story, I'll tell you on the way" I said
The hydra agent I shot in the leg started to regain conciseness so I sat up as he groaned and opened his eyes.
"Where are you taking me?" he said struggling at the ties binding his hands and feet.
"Back home." said Pietro with a savage pleasure
"Shield?" said the man in a disgusted voice "I thought we taught you better."
"You taught me nothing." Pietro clearly didn't care what the man had to say, he leant back in his seat resting his feet on a crate in front of us. I got up and kneeled down in front of the man.
"Just out of interest." I said tilting my head to the side "Have you ever been bitten by a Black Widow?"
The man's eyes widened in fear.